Choosing A Hotel in Vancouver
Quick Summary of Most Popular Areas
Downtown Vancouver: home to the world-famous Robson Street, this area is full of excellent dining, entertainment and shopping options
Gastown: Victorian architecture, First Nations art galleries
Stanley Park: gardens, art exhibitions and lots of trees, everything you'd expect from a park, biking/rollerblading path
Granville Island: family-friendly and a hub of activity
Where to Stay in Vancouver
If you're visiting Vancouver and you don't plan to check out Gastown, Stanley Park or Granville Island then you may as well curl up into a ball and lock yourself in a closet. You must check out these places as they are what make Vancouver...well, Vancouver.
Obviously staying in a hotel in downtown Vancouver is a popular choice, especially if you are there to go shopping or to check out Robson Street (remember the 2010 Olympic Games? Ya, that street.) You are close to most of the action and only a stone's throw from most of the popular tourist areas like the ones I mentioned above. However, be prepared to pay a premium for these hotels as the law of supply and demand is in effect (it's a bustling tourist area, what do you expect?). Some of these hotels will try to lure you in with spa, romance or site-seeing packages but with a bit of research you can usually set these up on your own.
So what makes each of the main areas of Vancouver unique, you ask? Well, if Victorian architecture doesn't put you to sleep then you'll probably enjoying a walking tour through Gastown (be sure not to wear fresh kicks though, you'll want something worked in and comfy for the stroll). If you're more adventurous and looking for something a bit more bustling then check out the farmer's market and live shows on Granville Island (take the bus there or ride a bike, parking is insane in the membrane). Finally, Stanley Park is fairly scenic with a bunch of gardens and artistic hubs, however do a bit of research first as to where you want to check out.
The Vancouver airport is located in the nearby city of Richmond, BC. If you're catching a flight in or out of the city (traffic can be a consideration) and you're not interested in staying in the downtown, you'll want to choose a hotel near Vancouver Airport or find something in Richmond.
Vancouverites like to spend their free time outdoors and staying active, and with outdoor playgrounds like the Coast Mountains and the Pacific coast, it's obvious why. In fact, you don't even have to leave Vancouver to go mountain biking, hiking, sea kayaking, sailing, or rollerblading. Grouse Mountain is one of those places where you can strike a couple items like hiking and skiing (in the winter) off your must-do-activities checklist. If you're into a more leisurely pace, Vancouver has a great paved sea wall for biking and rollerblading that winds through Stanley Park and part of downtown. For the more hardcore sports enthusiast, there's Whistler. A 2 hour drive from Vancouver, Whistler is a mountain biking, golfing, zip-lining, skiing paradise. Though most people probably know Whistler for its winter activities, there's just as much fun to be had in the summertime. However, if you're going to do Whistler right, you don't want to be driving back and forth to Vancouver and it's probably best to find somewhere to overnight in Whistler.